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 Air Force Critical Days of Summer 2013
Critical Days of Summer calls for increased risk management

Posted 6/13/2013   Updated 6/13/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

6/13/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- More daylight, clear skies and no school usually means one thing - summer is here.

For many in the Air Force and Air Education and Training Command, summer means outdoor activities. Whether it's the road or the beach that beckons Airmen to come out and play, safety officials and senior leaders are asking service members to exercise sound judgment.

The Critical Days of Summer safety campaign brings awareness to Airmen looking to take advantage of the warm summer months.

Unfortunately, the best officials can hope for, is to mitigate the risks that come with outdoor fun, said Robbie Bogard, AETC Ground Safety.

The summertime fatality count Air Force-wide is already up to six, however, so far AETC is at zero.

During the Critical Days of Summer of fiscal year 2012, in AETC alone, 303 mishaps happened; two of those were fatalities. Investigations totaled the estimated cost of mishap injuries at $1,163,859.

The real cost is actually much higher when considering the long-term costs of an Airman's injuries, said David Etrheim, AETC Ground Safety.

In FY12, during the summer, 1,134 workdays in AETC were lost due to safety mishaps.

FY10 is highly regarded as AETC's best ever since not a single fatal mishap occurred. AETC has averaged four fatalities per year since 1981. FY10 stands alone in the AETC history books.

AETC Safety considers FY10 to be the benchmark for the command by which all other years are weighed against, however, they realize it will take everyone - senior leaders, frontline supervisors and their Airmen - to eliminate mishap fatalities.

"It's going to take involvement at all levels," said Bogard. "Supervisors need to be aware of what their people are doing."

He said Airmen should get their wingmen involved, and supervisors should consider having their Airmen fill out an AETC Form 29B, Pre-departure Safety Briefing, even if the service member is over the age of 26, before they engage in high-risk activities and depart on long drives. "It's face-to-face interaction risk management between supervisor and his troop."

"Supervisory involvement is crucial to mishap prevention on- and off-duty," said Col. Tal W. Metzgar, director of AETC Safety. "Know your people, their their voice of reason and help them identify blind spots in their risk mitigation."

During summertime activities, Airmen need to be extra vigilant about adding alcohol to the mix, said Etrheim.

"Any activity you're doing, if you add alcohol you're just increasing the risk," he said. "Your inhibitions get reduced and you might try something you never would if you were completely sober."

Airmen need to remember how easy it is to become impaired when they're drinking, and to never be without a wingman, said Metzgar.

"People become statistics while doing seemingly ordinary things," he said. "I believe accidents do happen...but mishaps are almost always preventable. During the Critical Days of Summer we often extend our days, overexert ourselves and become fatigued and dehydrated, which are all key factors in impaired judgment. Adding alcohol to the summer fun dramatically increases risk. Take care of yourself, your wingman, and know when to call 'knock-it-off.'"

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